Brooklyn, NY, May 29… On Sunday, May 19, at an ornate nightclub in Brighton Beach, the M Generation, an award-winning Russian boys choir, offered an amazing display of young talent to an overflow crowd of 500. Against an ever-changing slideshow backdrop, they sang in rich harmonies in English, Russian, Hebrew and Yiddish, and danced. Captivating pint-sized soloists took the stage and belted out lyrics like seasoned professionals.
An honored guest at the event, Alec Brook-Krasny, New York State Assemblyman for the 46th
District, called the M Generation “a treasure in our community.”
In addition to Yiddish classics and tunes from Fiddler on the Roof and the Beatles, the M Generation performed original works by the outstanding composer, Baruch Rukiter. His creamy melodies and rich orchestration extol the beauties of Jewish life, including the Sabbath, Jewish rituals such as Bar Mitzvah, learning Torah, and Israel, the promised land. Chana Okunov and Issac Liberman collaborated on the lyrics, and Ganna Makarova choreographed the show.
The signature song of the group is “M Generation,” whose theme is the unique destiny of the Jewish people.
“M Generation, the Chosen Nation
A transformation is on its way.
M Generation, a proclamation’s
A new sensation, Moshiach days.”
Now in its 10th year, the M Generation won first place at the 2003 International Chanukiah Awards in Germany, featuring Jewish performers from 17 countries.
Stars from the M Generation appeared in the off-Broadway show, “Don’t Worry, Be Jewish.”
They have appeared several times on Hollywood’s Chabad Telethon, and also in Europe, South America, Canada and the Caribbean. They turn down over 30 requests a year because of school.
The M Generation is the brainchild of Rabbi Hershel Okunov, Executive Director of F.R.E.E. of Brighton Beach. In seeking to interest the Russian Jewish community in their roots, he asked Baruch Rukiter to form a children’s chorus, knowing that Russians love the arts, and particularly music.
This approach is largely indirect. The children, many of whom go to public school, know that when they arrive at the synagogue for rehearsal, they have to put on a yarmulke.
When kosher snacks are handed out, the children have to make a Hebrew blessing. They are not allowed to bring in any non-kosher food.
Rabbi Okunov knows that the songs, which are all about Jewish values, will stay in their heads long after they have left the chorus.
The children go home with flyers about holiday programs and other activities at the synagogue, the F.R.E.E. Hebrew Allliance. Ultimately, the hubbub of activity, –the weddings, bar mitzvahs, prayer services and special holiday events, draw the Russians closer to their heritage and to Jewish observance.
F.R.E.E. of Brighton Beach is a satellite branch of Friends of Refugees of Eastern Europe, a Chabad organization started by the Lubavitcher Rebbe and serving the Russian Jewish community for over 35 years.
As the Russian community has grown and prospered, F.R.E.E. of Brighton has kept pace with them, inspiring them to deepen their ties with their faith along with the material success they are enjoying.
What does the M in M Generation stand for? Says Rabbi Okunov, “We based the name on the prophecy of the Rebbe. The M is for Moshiach. This is the generation that will see Moshiach.”